Davina’s Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 6

We always joke about the difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie in our house. it’s easy ─ shepherds have sheep! The sweet potato topping is awesome and makes a welcome change from regular mash.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 600g minced lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 100g celeriac or swede, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 14 tsp cinnamon
  • a few rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml lamb or chicken stock
  • salt and black pepper


  • 2─3 sweet potatoes (about 1kg in weight)
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche
  • a few knobs of butter, for dotting on top


  1. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish or saucepan. Add half the lamb and brown it thoroughly, allowing a crust to develop on the underside before turning it over. Remove the meat and set it aside, then add the remaining lamb and brown it in the same way. Put all the lamb back in the pan.
  2. Add the onion, carrots, celery and celeriac or swede to the pan and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic, cinnamon and rosemary and stir to combine,then add the tomatoes and stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring everything to the boil, then turn down the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer gently for about 45 minutes, checking regularly to make sure the mixture isn’t getting too dry. If necessary, add a little more stock or water.
  3. While the meat is cooking, you can make the sweet potato mash. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas 6. Put the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and bake them for 45 minutes or so until soft. Remove them from the oven but leave the oven on. As soon as the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, split them open and scoop the flesh out into a bowl. Add the &egrave fraiche, season with salt and black pepper and mash thoroughly.
  4. To assemble, put the meat mixture in an ovenproof serving dish. Spoon the sweet potato mash on top, spreading it out evenly and making sure that none of the meat bleeds through, then fork up the mash slightly for a rougher finish. Dot with a few small knobs of butter. Bake the pie in the hot oven for about 40─45 minutes.